Staff and pupils at Crombie, Elrick and Westhill primary schools are celebrating after receiving a national award in recognition of their commitment to cycling.
Cycling Scotland’s Cycle Friendly School Award is received by schools who are encouraging cycling as part of a whole school culture aimed at benefitting both children’s health and their environment.
The national average of children cycling to school currently sits at 3.5%. The figure for Westhill is six times higher at 21%, four times higher at Crombie at 14% and more than double at Elrick where 8% of pupils cycle to school, according to the 2011 Hands Up Travel Survey carried out by Aberdeenshire Council.
Aberdeenshire Council’s transport strategy unit works with schools across the area to create travel plans and encourage staff and pupils to think carefully about the travel choices available.
The council has installed suitable cycle storage at schools, as well as upgrading and adding new safe routes for pupils to use. Initiatives such as Walk to School Week and Park and Stride have been introduced at schools across the area, which are also lending their support to a cycling campaign called ‘Give me Cycle Space’.
Funded by Cycling Scotland, the campaign aims to encourage drivers to give cyclists more space on the road. Aberdeenshire is one of 13 local authorities in Scotland who are involved in the project, which consists of national and local advertisements, providing information to schools and hosting a cycling competition.
Aberdeenshire Council school travel planning officer, Joanna Stewart, congratulated the schools on their achievement: “I am delighted that the hard work and dedication of pupils, parents and staff alike has earned these schools recognition on a national level.
“Through the travel planning process all our schools have the opportunity to develop measures appropriate to their site which encourage safety, accessibility and sustainability within our communities.”
Head teacher at Crombie School, Kate Hopkins, said: “We felt that this was a very worthwhile initiative for us, as a school, to get involved with and obviously to receive Cycle Friendly School status is testament to the hard work put in by our staff, the school travel planning officer, parents and pupils.
“It also sits well with our Curriculum for Excellence by helping our pupils to be responsible citizens and effective contributors within the community.”
Crombie Primary P7 pupil Chrissie Blanchard added: “I love cycling and I think it is a safe way to come to school. We should all cycle. It keeps me healthy too. I am glad that we have been given this award.”